You may be surprised to learn that many schools in the United States are currently switching to a four day week, but you probably won't be surprised at the reason - money.
Currently, in Colorado alone, 98 School Districts have made the switch, one superintendent predicted it would save $1 million dollars. But savings aren't the only reason districts are switching to the shorter schedule, it is also a way to help entice teachers, "teacher demand exceeded supply for grades K-12 in the country's public schools by more than 100,000 for the first time ever this year".
Although this may sound strange at first, the results have had some positive benefits, such as "student attendance went up, along with teacher and student morale. Studies have even demonstrated that performance has increased, too."
So how will this work? One of the most obvious concerns would be, what do you do with your children if they no longer have school, and you have work? The same district has proposed offering child care for $30 a day. Another concern will be if this actually will save money. " Research shows that the maximum possible cost savings for districts on a four-day week are 5.43 percent, but average savings range from 0.4 to 2.5 percent." Some are pointing to four-day week schedules as being able to draw more teachers.
All and all it is hard to draw any definite conclusions about whether or not this experiment will work. I am personally all for experimenting with different schedules, and I believe that schools should be flexible enough to change to the needs of the communities they serve. But if the reason schools are turning to this is because they cannot otherwise pay teachers, then maybe we need to focus more on funding education.
Obviously, a new schedule which reduces costs fits well with the community, and benefits students and staff alike is the kind of win-win that you don't often find in government-run programs. But to hear that it is coming out of a deprivation of funds is disconcerting, to say the least.
Nearly 1 in 5 public school teachers have second jobs during the school year. For a job as important, and as challenging, as teaching is, teachers deserve to be able to focus all of their working hours on teaching and then enjoy the rest of their time living their life.